Nairobi Commuter Bus Service Suspended

  • Inside a commuter bus in Nairobi
    Inside a commuter bus in Nairobi
  • Nairobi Commuters will have to dig deeper into their pockets after the state announced that it has suspended an affordable Nairobi Commuter Bus Service option.

    While appearing before the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Wednesday, February 17, Public Service Principal Secretary Mary Kimonye admitted that the service was running at a loss. 

    Dubbed the 'Okoa Abiria Programme', the project which was launched by the National Youth Service (NYS) in 2018, had been charging a flat rate of Ksh20 per passenger to and from Nairobi CBD. 

    The NYS commute service started with 27 buses that have now been reduced to nine. The PS said most of the buses had broken down and that it was too costly to revive them.

    People boarding an NYS commuter bus at a stage in Nairobi
    People boarding an NYS commuter bus at a stage in Nairobi

    The project, which targeted densely populated areas in the city, operated in Kibera, Githurai, Mwiki, Mukuru kwa Njenga, Dandora, Kariobangi and Kawangware routes.

    It was unveiled after President Uhuru Kenyatta issued a directive with the aim of reducing transport costs for commuters around the city.

    At the time of launch, former NYS Director-General Richard Ndubai had explained that the fares charged by NYS were low because the venture was not intended for profit.

    "We are not doing this for profit. The fare will only cater for fuel costs. Wananchi have been suffering and we hope that this will bring discipline on the roads as well as stabilise fares.

    "We are about public service and meeting the needs of Kenyans, which have not been met by the other groups. Further, we only have the buses operating from Monday to Friday during rush hour," he explained.

    Two years after the launch of the service, the office of the Auditor-General raised questions about the sustainability of the project after more than half the buses broke down.

    "The programme further had no budgetary provision to fund the maintenance of the buses and other operational costs and no subsidy has so far been received for the project.

    "Under the circumstances, the sustainability of the Okoa Abiria programme is highly uncertain," read the Auditor-General's report.

    In 2018, a month after its launch, the government approved Ksh500 million to help run the programme.

    NYS Headquarters
    NYS Headquarters